By Rebecca Lewis @RebeccaSLewis
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Videographer / Director: Bulls Press
Producer: Rebecca Lewis, Chloe Browne
Editor: Sonia Estal
When Japanese funeral director Mitani Hisao, 62, spotted a five-centimetre baby tortoise in a pet shop in Tokyo, he knew the animal would become his best friend.
But 19 years later the tortoise, named Bon-chan, has grown dramatically - his shell is now 2 foot 5 inches (75cm) in diameter.
The unlikely pair attract attention wherever they go on their two hour outings around the city dressed in their homemade outfits.
Mitani said: “I never had any children, but 19 years ago my wife caught the eyes of this little tortoise and felt an instant bond with him. I couldn’t leave the store without it.
“But we had no idea he would become this big.”
And despite his lack of offspring, Mitani is happy to refer to the 70kg creature as his son.
He added: “Bon-chan is the only one in my family that listens to me, so I confide in him all the time. I just say his name and he walks over to me.
“He knows all my dirty secrets - if he could talk I would be in trouble.”
Over the years the pair have bonded and now Mitani cherishes the long and relaxing walks – despite the attention it brings.
The pair wear matching homemade outfits prepared by their neighbour to protect Bon-chan - an African spurred tortoise - from the cold in the winter months.
Mitani said: “I get a lot of compliments because of the outfits.
“The purse I am carrying is for carrots, some cabbage, and plastic bags to pick up his poop and a water bottle to wash away his urine from the pavement.
“I’m pretty patient, but Bon-chan is actually not that slow. I take him out for walks two to three times a week, he loves these walks, he has a set route that takes us around 1.5 hours.
“Bon-chan knows the route by heart and is very strong-minded, so it is more me that follows him, than the other way around. We walk the neighbourhood and we are pretty famous around here.
“If there is a cute girl passing us, he will start following the girl.”
The unusual pet is a welcome addition to Mitani’s business – a funeral home.
He said: “When people come to me, they are sad. But seeing Bon-chan brings a smile to their face. I’m proud my son has that effect on people.”